1.) Why a Canadian action hero in a book that bounces between Canada and the United States? My reading experience would generally have the hero an American if the series was even partially placed in the United States.
Having the lead character as a Canadian allows a perspective on America that often Americans don’t have. I lived in the United States for many years. My wife is a Puerto Rican American. Both of my kids are dual citizens. One lives in the States; the other has the knee jerk hatred of America that is pretty common here.
Our relationship with the elephant down there is pretty darned important for us to understand past the knee jerk stuff. Hence, start in Toronto and work south. I was born and raised in Toronto, although I left for 15 years I’ve been back for 22, and this is the first I’ve been able to write about Toronto. Although, to be honest, it’s more about the Junction than Toronto.
Your insight is true, and there are times that publishers want to push for American Heroes. Decker’s an outsider, we as Canadians are outsiders to the world’s most powerful entity, crumbling as it may be.
2.) I have been reading a number of new thriller series this year including Michael Harvey’s Third Rail and Noah Boyd’s The Bricklayer. Both feature strong powerful physically aggressive characters with Boyd’s sleuth, Steve Vail, also being a thoughtful analytical hero. Decker Roberts lacks both brawn and skill with weapons. Why was Decker created with his mind his primary resource?
Partially because he’s an outsider. Partially because I’ve got pretty sick of cops and sleuths altogether. How many times can a guy be hit on the back of the head and get back up on his feet and continue? Talk to Mr. Crosby about hits to the head.
Decker in fact doesn’t like police officers of NSA people. He’s a loner who’s used his head to keep ahead of the inherent violence all around him. He’s not a weakling or a coward; he just sees and understands the diminishing returns of violence.
Yeah, we created drone planes to attack terrorist sites-and lots of folks are cheering this-but-surely the bad guys will eventually get hold of that access to violence. Then where will anyone be safe?
3.) Where does your interest in synaesthetes come from?
I’ve always written about people with special abilities, the five Zhong Fong novels are about a man with exceptional talent in a world where special talents are not honored. When I directed the first Canadian play in the People’s Republic of China the first thing the Artistic Director of that theatre said to me was, “You must remember that you can always be replaced”-a fine hello, how was your flight!
Synesthesia simply gives and access to the ‘other.’ There is a lot of material on synesthesia; some of the most interesting is actually the documentary on Mr. Tammet and his extraordinary abilities. There is also a gentleman called the human camera, you can find YouTube stuff on both, and BBC documentaries. As well Mr. Tammet has an interesting book.
Rainman was based loosely on the man who Mr. Tammet thought of as his spiritual father-he passed away a few years back.
4.) In doing a little research on synaesthetes I found only references to individuals who have such traits as seeing colors when they view letters. Is there a source on the net for particulars of synaesthetes such as Decker with the gift of divining the truth?
5.) Is there a reason why the Canadian government, especially CSIS, was not seeking out Decker to enhance our country’s security by using his talents to assess truth telling?
I’ve tinkered with this, but there are only so many enemies for Decker. The collusion of CSIS with the NSA is hinted as in the chapter at Pearson airport. Thanks, this might be a worthwhile place for me to put some thought.
6.) It is rare for a thriller hero to have children let alone a child, Seth, with a difficult relationship with the hero. What took you to giving Decker an adult child in a real relationship with his father?
I’m a father, I have a son.
7.) The book had a significant number of unresolved issues such as the future of Seth. The book is described as the first in the Junction Chronicles. Is the book intended to be read as part of a set of books with individual book plots set within an overall plot fully unfolding over a series of books in the same way Stieg Larsson created the Millennium Trilogy?
If so, why did you write a multi-book plot?
The baseball season is a multi-plot book. Tolstoy is a multi-plot book. All the major HBO series are multi-plot books. Just seemed the right time to write something that people would look forward to year after year.
(My review of The Placebo Effect was posted Monday. On Friday I will post thoughts on Questions and Answers with David.)